Monday, July 1, 2019

Will Your Remodel Pay Off? The Best (and Worst) Ways to Spend Your Budget

Most new homeowners have something about their property that they want to change. And as family needs and design trends shift over time, many will eventually choose to remodel. Some homeowners make updates to their property before listing it to maximize their potential sales revenue.

Whatever your reasons are for taking on a home improvement project, it’s wise to consider how the money you invest will impact your home’s value.

We’ve taken a look at six popular home renovations and identified those that—on average—have the best and worst returns on investment. So before you lift a hammer or hire a contractor, take a look at this list and see if your remodeling efforts will reward you when it comes time to sell.


These three common home improvement projects not only add function and style to your home, but they also offer a strong return on investment. Making strategic upgrades to your property will help you increase its value over time.

Minor Kitchen Remodel
The kitchen is often referred to as the “heart of the home,” and for good reason. Traditionally used for preparing food, it has morphed into so much more. Many of us now eat our family meals in the kitchen, it serves as a favorite spot for homework and kids’ art projects, and it’s the place guests tend to gather when we host events.

Because we spend so much time in our kitchens, it’s natural that we will eventually want to make updates and upgrades to better suit our needs and changing style preferences.

Luckily, a minor kitchen remodel is one of the best investments you can make in your home. According to Remodeling Magazine’s annual Cost vs. Value Report, it has an average 80.5% return on investment.1

The key to making a kitchen remodel pay off is to keep it modest in scale. Spend too much on custom or high-end selections, and you are less likely to recoup your investment. Instead, make an effort to keep your existing layout if it works for you and your family. Paint or reface cabinets instead of replacing them. Update countertops with low-maintenance quartz and swap out old light fixtures with modern alternatives. Replace outdated appliances with energy-efficient models. The average cost for a minor kitchen remodel is $22,500, and it’s likely to recoup more than $18,000 at resale.1

Wood Deck Addition
A deck addition is a popular way to extend and enhance the use of your outdoor space. It’s the perfect spot for grilling, dining alfresco, and entertaining. In fact, 81% of surveyed homeowners said they have a greater desire to be home since completing a deck addition.2

For a 16 x 20-foot wood deck, you can expect to spend around $13,000. Fortunately, the money you invest offers an average return of 76%.1

Decks made of composite material are a popular alternative these days, as they don’t require the regular sanding and staining that wood decks need. However, at an average cost of $19,000 for a 16 x 20-foot composite deck, they are significantly more expensive. Plus, the expected return on investment is only 69%.1 Still, if you plan to hire someone to provide regular maintenance to a wood deck, then a composite deck may offer cost savings over time.

Siding Replacement
Everyone knows good curb appeal is important when selling your home. And while it may not be the most exciting way to spend your remodeling budget, new siding can make a big impression on buyers … and your selling price.

Your home’s exterior is one of the first things buyers see when they view your home. It sets the tone for what they are going to see inside. It also gives an impression of how well the property has been maintained. Worn, peeling, or rotted siding can be a major red flag for buyers.

Replacing 1,250 square feet of siding costs around $16,000 and will net you an average of 76% at resale.1

For an even greater impact, consider replacing a portion of your siding with manufactured stone veneer. It can have a dramatic effect on the visual appeal of your home. A 300 square foot area will run you around $8,900, but you can expect to see a nearly 95% return when it comes time to sell.1


These three popular remodeling projects are homeowner favorites. However, don’t expect to see a high rate of return at resale. Instead, consider them an investment in your current quality of life. Just make sure you’ll be living in the home long enough to make them worthwhile.

Major Kitchen Remodel
If there’s one room the majority of homeowners dream about making over, it’s their kitchen. From custom cabinetry to high-end appliances, the possibilities are endless. But those dreams can come at a cost.

An upscale kitchen remodel with high-end cabinetry and countertops, commercial-grade appliances, and designer features can cost upwards of $130,000. And unfortunately, you’ll only get back around 60% at resale. Even a mid-range kitchen remodel that includes new semi-custom wood cabinets, laminate countertops, and energy-efficient appliances could run you around $66,000 and net you a mere 62% at resale.1

Of course, an outdated or non-functional kitchen could turn buyers off from your home completely …  and keep you from enjoying it yourself! So if your kitchen needs a major remodel, you shouldn’t necessarily scrap your plans. Just go in with the realization that you may only get back a fraction of what you invest. Then you can decide which upgrades are worth the splurge.

In-ground Pool         
Few additions deliver more entertainment or enjoyment than an in-ground pool. It brings families and friends together, provides a break from the summer heat, and offers a fun and convenient way to stay fit. Plus, you’ll be the envy of your neighbors! But before you dive into a pool addition, consider whether the benefits outweigh the (substantial) costs.

The average expense to install a standard 18 x 36-foot in-ground pool is $57,500. And the estimated return at resale is only or 43%.2  In addition to the installation cost, plan to spend money each year on maintenance, repairs, and additional insurance.

However, 92% of surveyed homeowners said they “have a greater desire to be home” since installing a pool, and 83% have “an increased sense of enjoyment when they are at home.” For you and your family, the perks of a pool may be priceless.2

Master Suite Addition
If you own a house built before the 1980s, there’s a good chance it lacks a master suite, which is a feature that has become commonplace in most newly constructed homes.3

Master bedrooms have evolved from a simple place to sleep into a homeowner’s retreat—often featuring a sitting area, his-and-hers walk-in closets, and an attached bathroom with double vanities, a soaking tub, and a walk-in shower.

And master suite additions have become increasingly popular—both in homes that lack one as well as those with aging owners who can no longer accommodate stairs to an upper-level bedroom.

But what’s the typical return at resale? Unfortunately, a master suite addition offers one of the lowest returns of any remodeling project. With a median cost of $125,000, most sellers will only recoup around 52% of their investment. Nevertheless, in a survey of homeowners, the majority were satisfied with their decision to add a master suite, giving it a “Joy Score” of 10 out of 10.4


It’s always wise to enter into a remodeling project with knowledge of how it will impact your home’s value. In most cases, upscale or highly-customized upgrades are less likely to offer a high rate of return. That said, home renovations that improve your quality of life and enhance your enjoyment may be worthwhile no matter the cost.


We’ve been talking averages. But the truth is, the actual return you can expect on a home improvement project will vary depending on your particular home and neighborhood. If you have plans to remodel, call or send us the details. We’d be happy to conduct a free analysis to determine how the renovations will impact the value of your home!

1.      2019 Cost vs. Value Report -

Wednesday, May 1, 2019

Top 6 Home Organization Upgrades that “Spark Joy” for Buyers

 Thanks to Marie Kondo and her hit Netflix series “Tidying Up,” home organization is a hot topic right now. Marie encourages her viewers to minimize their possessions and keep only those items that “spark joy.”

With spring in full bloom, now is the perfect time to do some spring cleaning and add organizational systems to your own home. Not only will you clear out clutter, your efforts can actually increase the value of your home.

Ready to give it a try? Here are six home organization ideas that will “spark joy” for you and your property value.

Boost Bathroom Storage Capacity
When was the last time you cleaned out your bathroom cupboards? If it’s been awhile, remove everything and take a look at each item. Toss any old or expired products—keep only what you actually use.

If your vanity has drawers, add drawer organizers, so you have a dedicated space for smaller items, like makeup and jewelry. For deep cabinets, install roll-out shelves or baskets to maximize the use of space.

And don’t forget about the walls! Mount open shelves to store towels. If you’re short on storage space, a cabinet over the toilet can offer additional room for supplies. These inexpensive additions can make your morning routine a little easier while giving your bathroom a more custom feel. And on average, minor bathroom remodeling projects like these see a 102% return at resale.1

Upgrade Your Laundry Room
Sort through the items in your laundry room and throw away or donate anything you no longer need or use. If you’ve been holding onto a collection of old washcloths and single socks, it’s time to say goodbye. Then give your laundry room an upgrade with some customized organizational features.

A mix of open cubbies and cabinets with doors will give you plenty of options for storing detergents and supplies. If you have space, a divided hamper or set of laundry baskets can provide a place to sort your clothes before washing. Install a hanging rod or drying rack for delicates and a flat work surface for ironing and folding clothes. With a few simple tweaks, you can turn this chore into a score!
Fully Utilize Your Basement or Attic
Basements and attics can easily become a dumping ground for clutter. If that’s the case in your home, you know what to do!

Once you’ve conducted a thorough clean out, think about how you can better utilize the space to meet your family’s needs. Install cabinets and a table so you can use the area as a craft room. Or you could turn it into a game room with a media center and ping-pong table. Investing in your basement will not only add function for your family, but also the average basement remodel can see up to a 70% return on investment when it’s time to sell.2

If you have an attic, consider adding a cedar closet to store your off-season clothing. The cedar lining will keep your clothes free from moths and smelling fresh year round.3 Turning your attic into a more usable space will pay off down the road, too. A finished attic sees an estimated 60% return on investment.2  

Customize Your Closets
Cleaning out the closet is a chore most of us dread, but by now, you’re a pro! Get rid the clothes and shoes that don’t fit you, are uncomfortable to wear, or that no longer “spark joy.”

Then it’s organizing time. So where do you start? You’ll want to create a designated space for each type of clothing: high hanging rods for dresses and long jackets, lower rods for skirts and shirts, and shelves for folded items like jeans. And accessories need a place to go, too. Add racks for your shoes, drawers for jewelry, hooks for hats, and shelves or racks for handbags.

A well-equipped closet can be a major draw for buyers—the average return on a closet remodel is 57%.4 But more importantly, it’ll improve your day-to-day life. Surveyed homeowners gave their closet remodel a “Joy Score” of 10 out of 10, higher than kitchen or bath upgrades.5

Install Built-in Bookcases and Cabinets
Built-in furniture adds functionality and storage to a room while giving your home a high-end look. Built-in bookcases can turn an empty room into an office. Custom cabinets can be used in a living room to display media equipment while providing hidden storage for DVDs, board games, and family albums.

When designing any built-in feature, remember not to go too custom. A design that only fits your tastes or belongings could turn off future buyers. Instead, select standard sizes and classic finishes to appeal to a broad range of buyers when it comes time to sell.

Equip Your Garage
If you can no longer fit your car in your garage, it may be time for a clean out. Similar to an attic or basement, the garage can quickly become overrun with clutter. A thorough cleaning will help you assess which items are worth keeping.

When adding organizational systems your garage, start with a small rack to store yard tools and larger racks for bikes and sports equipment. Overhead racks are a great place to put seasonal items and bulky luggage. A workbench against a wall lined with pegboard and hooks creates a dedicated space to use and store tools. If you have children or pets, add a cabinet with a lock. This will give you a place to securely store harsh chemicals and sharp tools. With a little effort, you’ll be pulling in your car (and buyers) in no time!


If you’re searching for service providers to help with your spring cleaning or home organization efforts, let me know! I can connect you with my trusted network of local home improvement professionals. I can also help you determine which organizational upgrades will add the most value to your home. Call me today, and let me know how I can help!


Thursday, November 29, 2018

Weekend Guide to local Holiday Activities

Get into the Spirit of the Season!  

There are so many events at this time of year, all aimed to get you into the bright and shiny Spirit of the Season.  Here are a few to enjoy this week.

Christmas Parade - Carolina Beach

Friday, Nov 30, 7:30 pm, Lake Park Blvd, Carolina Beach
Area residents young and old look forward to the annual Christmas Parade. 
The parade proceeds from Atlanta Ave down Lake Park Blvd to the Federal Point Plaza in Carolina Beach. Floats, bands and Santa Clause will be there to add to the festivities of the season and provide a night of entertainment for families. 
For more info, visit the Pleasure Island website: website Pleasure Island Parade

Greenfield Park Christmas Tree Lighting and Movie

Friday, Nov 30, 1941 Amphitheater Dr., Wilmington

Tree lighting, free visits with Santa, and the movie "Elf."   The entertainment starts at 5:15 pm, the tree lighting will be at 6:00 and with the arrival of Santa, and the movie begins at 7 pm.   This will be holiday fun for the whole family!
For more info, visit the Wilmington Parks & Recreation web page:  website Greenfield Tree Lighting

Island of Lights Christmas Flotilla

Saturday, Dec 1, 6:00 pm, Carolina Beach Boat Basin, 216 Canal Drive

Fishing boats and pleasure craft decorated with thousands of lights present a spectacular display on the Intracoastal Waterway. They cruise form Snows Cut to the Carolina Beach Boat Basin and back. The boats compete for prizes and add to the wonderful holiday spirit.  
For more info, visit the Pleasure Island website:  website Island of Lights

Cape Fear Festival of Trees

Nov 19-Jan 2, 9 am- 5 pm, at the NC Aquarium at Fort Fisher  

Santa's Magical Morning

Saturday Dec 15, 8-9:30 am, at the NC Aquarium at Fort Fisher

    Join Lower Cape Fear Hospice at the NC Aquarium at Fort fisher for one of the area's favorite and longest running holiday traditions: Cape Fear Festival of Trees. Admission to the aquarium is all that is needed to delight in a forest of uniquely decorated trees while taking in all the amazing aquatic displays. Sure to delight all ages, Cape Fear Festival of Trees is the perfect way to entertain children out on school break or family and friends visiting during the holidays.
    And keep in mind the upcoming Santa's Magical Morning also at the Aquarium on Saturday, Dec 15, 8-9:30 am.  Enjoy a donut breakfast while Santa dives in the Cape Fear Shoals with his aquatic friends. Wonder at true tales of Santa's North Pole neighbors and polar pals. Enjoy holiday story time with Mrs. Claus, and don't be surprised by the giggles of glee when the jolly old elf presents a specially selected gift to each child.  
For more info, Visit the NC Aquarium website:  NC Aquarium

Wilmington Holiday Parade and Menorah Lighting

Sunday, Dec 2, starting 6 pm

Wilmington’s 16th annual holiday parade will pass through several blocks of downtown, bringing marching bands, floats, and of course, a visit from Santa.  Starting at 6 p.m., the celebrations will begin with the lighting of the community menorah. The lighting will take place at the intersection of Market and Water Streets.  The parade also kicks off at 6 p.m., four blocks north of the menorah lighting on Water Street at Walnut Street.  Festivities will follow down Water Street south toward Chesnut Street. 
For more info and parade route visit the Port City Daily page: Wilmington Parade Article

Christmas By The Sea - Carolina Beach Boardwalk

Nov 25 until Christmas, Carolina Beach Boardwalk

During the annual Christmas by the Sea, the Carolina Beach Boardwalk area is a holiday wonderland, with fun activities for families. The Boardwalk is decorated and lit up each and every night during the holiday season starting with the lighting ceremony on Saturday, November 24th. 

On Saturday, December 1, 8, and 15 the following activities will be active from 6:30 until 8:30 pm:

Come Visit Santa & Mrs Claus Welcome Center
- Fire Pit with story telling 
- Hot chocolate at the Welcome Center
- Puppet show
- Arts & Crafts Area and ornament making activities for kids
For more info, visit the Christmas by the Sea Facebook page:  Page Xmas by the Sea

Enchanted Airlie

Enchanted Airlie 2018 will run the following nights, 
at Airlie Gardens, 300 Airlie Rd, Wilmington NC
  • November: 23rd, 24th & 30th 
  • December: 1st & 7th-22nd

Better get your tickets NOW because they are almost all gone!  
Airlie Gardens in Wilmington presents Enchanted Airlie, where visitors can experience a self-guided walking tour through gardens featuring festive lights and holiday displays.  Santa Claus himself will be in attendance, and a few local food and beverage vendors will have hot chocolate, popcorn, cookies, beer, wine and more!
For more info, see the Airlie Gardens website:  website Enchanted Airlie

City Ballet Presents: A Carolina Nutcracker

Saturday, Dec 1 at 7 pm; Sunday Dec 2 at 3 pm, Wilson Center, Wilmington

A Carolina Nutcracker is the Cape Fear region's own full-length traditional production of the beloved holiday ballet!  Set in 1865 Wilmington at the Bellamy Mansion, the ballet features all the classic elements of the original -- Drosselmeyer, the Mouse King, and the Sugar Plum Fairy -- merged with Wilmington's own history.  The City Ballet is joined by professional guest artists from the Carolina Ballet in Raleigh, and Tchaikovsky's sumptuous musical score is performed by a live 50-piece professional orchestra and a treble chorus.  If you only see one "Nutcracker" this year, this is the one for the whole family!
For more info and tickets, visit the Wilson Ctr website:  website Nutcracker

Area Map of the Best Christmas Lights

If you love driving around to marvel at the the creative and beautiful light displays in our neighborhoods, here's a map that is being constantly updated to help you find the best of the best.    
Wilmington Christmas Lights Website:  Our Lights

Thursday, October 18, 2018

Tips for Surviving Halloween

Whether you are prepping kids for a night out or heading out to your own festivities, use these tips to keep your Halloween free from scary mishaps.

If your kids are trick or treating:

  • Add protective tape to costumes and/or candy bags for better visibility
  • Make sure you and/or your kid(s) are equipped with flashlights with new batteries
  • Use costume makeup instead of masks to avoid obstructed eyesight
  • Pin long costumes and wear comfortable shoes to avoid tripping
  • Ditch pointed accessories like swords and sticks
  • Accompany your kids out or arrange for them to join a group supervised by an adult
  • Carry a cell phone
  • Teach your kids how to safely cross the street and check for on-coming traffic
  • Only visit a home if the porch light is on; never enter a home or car to get a treat
  • Plan a route and stay together
  • Examine treats and toss out anything unwrapped 
 Also, do check into some of the great alternative Treat or Treat options!

  • Batty Battleship Halloween Bash - Trick or Treat aboard the Battleship North Carolina on Tuesday, October 24, 2017, 5:30 p.m. until 8:00 p.m.
  • Trick or Treat Under the Sea - The North Carolina Aquarium at Fort Fisher in Kure Beach, Oct 26-28, 4:30-8:30 pm
  • Annual Trick or Treat in the Park - Oct 27, 5 to 8 p.m., in Hampstead Kiwanis Park
  • Trunk or Treat events at various churches and neighborhood sites

No kids?

  • Slow down and drive carefully, and keep an eye out for children crossing the street
  • Properly restrain your pets
  • If you are handing out treats, clear your yard of any items visitors may trip on
  • Keep your home and walk-ways well lit
  • Replace jack-o-lantern candles with flameless candles or glow sticks

Have a safe – and Spooky – Halloween!

Wednesday, October 3, 2018

The After-Florence Real Estate Market - What to Expect?

In the aftermath of Hurricane Florence, what is the outlook for Wilmington real estate?        You might be surprised.

The heart-wrenching impact of Hurricane Florence on our community and on those who have lost so much will be felt for a long time.  But I've been awed watching neighbor helping neighbor, the dedication of first-responders, the generosity of volunteers, and so many actions that show the best of the human spirit.  Our community is resilient.

I believe there are good reasons the real estate market in Southeastern North Carolina will likewise show great resilience and come back stronger than ever.  Although we've been hard-hit, local real estate industry leaders are optimistic a turn-around will be quick.  Here are some of the reasons why they think this.

History tells us the slowdown will be short-lived

Hurricane Harvey in Houston and Hurricane Irma in Florida in 2017 demonstrated that while real estate markets are initially hard hit by a significant hurricane, the slowdown is typically short-lived.
  -- For the 5 days before Harvey and the 5 days after, homes sales (NOT PRICES) dropped by almost 96 percent.
  -- The week after the storm, agents were touring homes and writing offers and calls from investors quadrupled. (We are already seeing that here.)
  -- The number of homes sold returned to pre-storm levels within 3 weeks, with homes prices holding steady.

Impact on property values

  -- With inventory already tight, undamaged properties will be in high demand and may shoot up in value.  
  -- A June 25 2018 Forbes article reports that hurricane damage actually causes housing prices to go up.  A 2010 Federal Reserve Bank study reported that the "typical hurricane strike raises house prices for a number of years, with a maximum effect of between 3 to 4% three years after occurrences."
  -- In Texas, two months after Hurricane Harvey, the Houston BizJournal reported that 31 neighborhoods saw an increase in median home prices.
  -- Rents will likely rise as displaced homeowners seek housing while their homes are being repaired.  (Unfortunately, in the short term there is a severe shortage of rental options for displaced homeowners, as described in a recent Wall Street Journal article.)

Opportunities in the crisis

As terrible as Hurricane Florence has been to our community, it will also create opportunities for the local real estate market.
  -- Buyers with badly damaged homes are eager to get into a new home and may pay a premium to do so.
  -- Unflooded homes will be in high demand and may sell at prices higher than pre-Florence.
  -- Investors see damaged homes as opportunities to repair or rebuild and then resell at a profit.
  -- Some damaged homes may be rebuilt higher and larger and may net a higher price than pre-Florence.

Continuing demand

Several long-term trends will continue to boost housing demand for Southeastern NC.
  -- growing economy
  -- strong labor market and low unemployment
  -- millennials coming of age to enter the housing market
  -- baby boomers living longer and more independently than previous generations

Demand will grow for hurricane resistant construction

Florence may discourage some from moving into hurricane-prone areas, but this is typically more than offset by a larger focus on new construction and more homes equipped to handle hurricane-force winds and flooding (by building up).

More buyers will be looking for hurricane-resistant features in a post-hurricane market, which means these features will add more value to the home.

The bottom line

There's good news ahead for sellers, investors, and buyers looking for more hurricane resistant homes that will build equity.   Finding rentals and affordable housing as prices rise will continue to be a struggle.

Monday, September 24, 2018

More Info: Surviving the Financial Storm after Florence

CPA Adam Shay provided the following excellent advice to help individuals and businesses survive the financial storm after Florence.    

CPA Adam Shay's website with additional info

The last week has been a whirlwind of physical and emotional challenges. Our Wilmington community is strong and we will come through this together. One of the less discussed aspects of the Florence so far is the post-storm financial impact on individuals and business owners. The storm’s impact to the local economy could prevent businesses and individuals from receiving regular income for a while. I have taken some time to compile a list of resources and suggestions that may be relevant to helping people weather the economic storm.
Business Loans
There are several disaster loan options available through the Small Business Administration (SBA) and other programs.  Some options are:
The Small Business Technology Development Center has a lot of relevant storm recovery loan related information on their website.
Insurance Claims
If your business was damaged, you may want to check if you have business interruption service (or something equivalent).  Whether it’s business or individual property damage, you will want to take time to assess your damage and report claims in a timely manner.  Realize that when it comes to claims, insurance companies want to pay out the minimum.  Stand up for yourself.  You may need some forensic accounting to demonstrate economic impact of the storm and aftermath.  You may also need to get an attorney involved, depending upon what is at stake with your claim.

Mortgage Relief
If your loan is owned by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac you may be eligible to stop making payments for three to twelve months.    You can click these links to determine if your loan is owned by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac.  If you do not have a mortgage owned by one of these entities, you may still be able to get some sort of deferment or relief from your lender.  Regardless of who owns your loan, call them and ask what they have available and if appropriate proceed to sign up for the appropriate program.

Be careful of scammers during Hurricane cleanup. Make sure you are working with licensed, insured contractors. Don’t pay up front and pay with a credit card if possible. Try to use local providers when you can.
Price gouging is illegal in North Carolina.

For those located in the federal declared disaster zone (as of this writing Beaufort, Bladen, Brunswick, Carteret, Columbus, Craven, Cumberland, Duplin, Harnett, Lenoir, Jones, New Hanover, Onslow, Pamlico, Pender, Robeson, Sampson, and Wayne counties), the IRS has extended the following items until January 31st, 2019:
  • S Corporation, C Corporation, Partnership, and Individual Income tax returns that were previously extended.
  • Quarterly estimated income tax payments due September 17th, 2018.
  • Quarterly payroll tax or excise tax returns due October 31st, 2018.
Penalties on late payroll taxes due between September 7, 2018 and September 24, 2018 will not be penalized as long as deposits are made by September 24, 2018.   North Carolina is making the same waivers except that they are still assessing interest on later quarterly estimated income tax payments.  Since we are in a federally declared disaster area, you may be able to claim damage or loss of property not covered by insurance on your income tax returns.

Unemployment (Even for Business Owners)
Disaster Unemployment Assistance (DUA) is available from the NC Division of Employment Security (NC ESC) for people in the following counties (as of the time of this writing): Beaufort, Brunswick, Carteret, Craven, New Hanover, Onslow, Pamlico and Pender.   You may be eligible for DUA if:
  • You are unemployed due to disaster.
  • Self-employed and lost income due to the disaster.
  • Injured due to disaster and unable to work.
  • You became a major income provider due to death from disaster.
  • You can’t reach their job or self-employed business due to travel affected by disaster.
  • You could not start employment during the disaster.
Frequently asked questions on DUA can be found here.  Note that from a timing perspective the NC ESC system will be down from 5PM September 24th through 8 AM Friday September 28th, so try to submit an initial claim starting then.

Adam Shay, CPA (N.C. License Number 35961), MBA, is managing partner of Adam Shay CPA, PLLC.  During the next couple of months we are offering free business roundtables for business owners to discuss things they are and could be doing to survive the economic impacts of Florence.  Anyone interested in learning more should email

Thursday, September 20, 2018

Assistance After Florence; Important Info!


Hurricane Florence is a once-in-a-lifetime storm that has left many facing significant challenges as we begin the recovery process. Please rest assured you are not alone. One of the ways we can help is to make you aware of the wide variety of resources available to you and your family to help you get through this difficult time. If you have been impacted in any way, PLEASE don’t hesitate to ask for help and take advantage of this assistance – your taxes make these programs available and they are meant to assist in times of crisis.

·    File with FEMA and get your FEMA number ASAP! You will need it for everything. Assistance can include grants for temporary housing and home repairs, low-cost loans to cover uninsured property losses, and other programs to help individuals and business owners.
·       You can apply for assistance by registering online at or by calling 1-800-621-FEMA(3362) or 1-800-462-7585 (TTY) from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. seven days a week.
·       You will  need to provide the following:
o   Social Security number, or the social security number of a child living at the house.
o   Annual household income.
o   Contact information, insurance information and bank account information (FEMA needs  bank account information so agency can directly deposit $$ into your account.)
·       Additional info:
o   Anyone who is denied will be notified and given a chance to appeal.
o   FEMA aid only is available for your primary residence — not vacation homes.
o   FEMA will not duplicate the assistance you receive from your insurance company, but you may receive assistance for items not covered by insurance.
o   Homeowners and renters can also apply for low-interest home repair loans from the Small Business Administration at  Owner of rental properties can also apply for repair loans through the SBA.

·       File for Disaster Unemployment Assistance (DUA). If you can't live in your house or go to work because your office is closed or flooded, this applies to you. The DUA program provides unemployment benefits to individuals who are unemployed as a direct result of a Presidentially declared major disaster. The state has declared that residents in Onslow, New Hanover, Brunswick and Pender counties are approved for DUA. You must file an application for benefits by October 17, 2018.
·       DUA is funded entirely by the federal government. Individuals need to file first for regular unemployment insurance. If an individual is determined ineligible for regular unemployment insurance, or has exhausted their regular unemployment insurance benefits, a DUA claim can then be filed. Individuals will need their Social Security number, copies of their most recent federal income tax forms or check stubs, or documentation to support they were working or self-employed when the disaster occurred. To receive DUA benefits, all required documentation must be submitted within 21 days from the day the DUA application is filed.
·       DUA is available beginning September 9, 2018, and may last for up to 26 weeks, as long as the claimant’s unemployment continues to be as a result of Hurricane Florence.
·       Individuals may contact DES by calling 1-866-795-8877 from 8AM to 5PM to apply for DUA benefits. If you have questions, you may email DES at or go to our website at For an updated list of counties that have been approved, please visit the News and Highlights section at

·       SBA provides low-interest disaster loans to businesses of all sizes, homeowners, and renters. SBA disaster loans can be used to repair or replace the following items damaged or destroyed in a declared disaster: real estate, personal property, machinery and equipment, and inventory and business assets.
·       You can apply online for all types of SBA disaster assistance loans. The online application is the fastest method to receive a decision about your loan eligibility. You have the option of submitting a paper application by mail. For either application, you must submit the completed loan application and a signed and dated IRS Form 4506-T giving permission for the IRS to provide SBA your tax return information.  You may also apply in person at any Disaster Recovery Center and receive personal, one-on-one help from an SBA representative. For information or to find a location near you, please contact our Customer Service Center. Call 1-800-659-2955 (TTY: 1-800-877-8339) or e-mail

·       File for DSNAP-Disaster food stamps. ANYONE in the affected areas can get them; they are not just for economically disadvantaged people. Do not be too proud to use this very important resource -- you can use the money you save on food to replace clothes and other necessities. The Disaster Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program offers short-term food assistance benefits to families recovering from a disaster. D-SNAP is designed to help when people return to their homes and have access to electricity and grocery stores. To get emergency SNAP benefits, go to your local DSS office. You will fill out the food stamps application (attached) and meet with a caseworker. If you are getting emergency SNAP benefits, DTA must give you SNAP benefits no later than seven days after they receive your application.
§                             Wilmington – 1650 Greenfield Street, Wilmington 28401
§                             Brunswick County – 60 Government Center Dr. NE, Bolivia 28422
§                             Pender County – 810 S Walker Street, Burgaw, NC 28425
    Onslow County – 612 College Street, Jacksonville, NC 28541

·       The state of North Carolina can help with rebuilding or repairing your home. More information is available at To apply, go to You will be required to provide the following:
·       A photo ID and proof of citizenship or legal residency (U.S. passport or green card).
·       Proof that you lived in the damaged home (like a utility bill from the same month the storm hit).
·       Copies of tax returns or pay stubs for all the adults who live in the home.
·     Copies of any payments from insurance companies or other government agencies for damage to the home.

·       When the storm passes, insurance agents will be out in force to assist homeowners with filing their property insurance claims.

·       The N.C. Department of Insurance will also assist in processing claims and plans to set up Consumer Assistance Centers in shopping centers and other public places. The locations will be listed at
·       File a claim with BOTH your homeowner's and flood insurance. Even though it's a flood, homeowners will cover some wind damage and most of them will give you money for "loss of use" if you can't live in your house.

·       American Red Cross of the Cape Fear Region - More than 1,500 Red Cross disaster workers have been deployed to assist with Hurricane Florence relief efforts.  Call 910-762-2683 to request assistance.

·       The Salvation Army’s national network of disaster staff and volunteers have been activated since Monday, September 10, to mobilize for storm preparation and response. Trained emergency disaster personnel are prepared to provide food, hydration, and emotional and spiritual support to survivors and first responders. 910-762-2070.

·       Call all of your bill collectors and notify them that you are in the affected area and/or that your house flooded. Most will delay your bill due dates for a month or two. This includes your mortgage company, cable, electricity, water, credit card companies, phone etc.

·       Be wary of sales reps who go door-to-door to solicit business.
·       Be sure the contractor you employ is insured and licensed; ask for proof of insurance.
·       Get all estimates in writing, including schedules and materials.
·       Don’t sign blank contracts and don’t pay a contractor in full until the work is completed.

·       Most importantly, allow people to help you! They want to and you need the help!